RUIDOSO — The annual ritual of All American weekend continues today at Ruidoso Downs with the nation's richest quarter horse race for 3-year-olds, the $1.9 million All American Derby.
Monday, the closing day of the Ruidoso Downs racing season is highlighted by the richest race for 2-year-olds of any breed in the world, the $2.6 million All American Futurity.
The strength of these fields for both today's Derby and Monday's Futurity, determined by trial heats held here just a bit more than two weeks ago, speaks to the quality of the quarter horse breed. The 10-horse field for the Derby have combined for 40 career wins and earnings over $2.6 million.
The fastest qualifier for the All American Derby is the Toby Keeton-trained Big Dashing Perry, who won the opening trial of the day on Aug. 16, getting 440 yards in a quick time of 21.18 seconds under Hall of Fame rider G.R. Carter, who will get back aboard the Louisiana-bred son of Mr Jess Perry.
Owned in partnership by Tommy and Bobby Barnett and Grant Farms LLC, Big Dashing Perry has won five times from seven career times with earnings topping $168,000.
Big Dashing Perry made his Ruidoso Downs debut in that trial race. Prior to that, he was a third-place finisher of the Sam Houston Derby on April 16.
As a 2-year-old, Big Dashing Perry started his career with three consecutive wins, including a winning effort in the $266,000 Frecracker Futurity at Delta Downs in Vinton, LA.
Breaking from post No. 4 in the All-American Derby, Big Dashing Perry has been installed as the second choice on the morning line at odds of 3-1.
The role of early favoritism goes to Houdini, the most experienced horse in the field and clearly the richest, with eight wins from 13 lifetime starts and earnings just over $904,000.
Houdini, a winner of three straight races for trainer Luis Villafranco, including a win in the Rainbow Derby last month over this course, has won five times from six starts here and will be ridden again by Cody Jensen.
A son of Valiant Hero owned by the Ellen Kennedy Living Trust, Houdini may not be an attractive wager despite the impressive record over the course.
His Rainbow Derby win was only the first stakes win in his career. Prior to the Rainbow Derby, he was a close second in the Jack Brooks Stakes at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. Before that, he was third in the Southwest Juvenile Championship at Zia Park, second in the Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park.
His worst career race also happened over this course, when he ran last with no excuse in the All-American Futurity last year.
Breaking from post No. 8, Houdini was the third-fastest qualifier for the Derby when he won the eighth trial of the day in a time of 21.263 seconds.
First post for today's All American Derby card is 12:30 p.m. and features two other stakes races, including the $100,000 First Down Dash, a consolation race for horses which didn't qualify for the Derby as well as the Ruidoso Thoroughbred Derby, where the Justin Evans-trained Rebranded will try and repeat his dominant, 12 1-2 length win in the Colorado Derby last month at Arapahoe Park.
The field, from the rail out for the All American Derby, with riders and morning line odds, lines up like this: Five Bar Cartel, Saul Ramirez, Jr., 12-1; J Bar, Rodrigo Vallejo, 6-1; Mon Ti Dash, Berkley Packer, 20-1; Big Dashing Perry, Carter, 3-1; Kates Dynasty, Larry Payne, 4-1; Too Flash For You, Larry Gamez, 10-1; The Ultimate Eagle, Jimmy Brooks, 20-1; Houdini, Jensen, 5-2; Down Side Magician, Ramon Sanchez, 15-1; Potenzza, Eduardo Nicasio, 8-1.